Multinational Enterprises and Labour Standards in International Investment Law and Arbitration

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Donato Greco

Summary: 1. Introduction. 2. The Traditional Asymmetry of International Investment Law. 3. The Development of International Labour Standards and Corporate Social Responsibility. 4. Solutions Aimed at Protecting Non-Investment Related Interestsat the Substantive Level. 4.1 The “In Accordance with Host State Law” Clause. 4.2 The “Right to Regulate” Doctrine. 4.3 The Principle of Proportionality. 5. Solutions Aimed at Protecting Non-Investment Related Interests at the Procedural Level: Counterclaims. 6. Final Remarks.


 This inquiry aims at providing a comprehensive assessment of the effectiveness of the labour protection granted by both international investment law and arbitration. More in detail, it starts by retracing the long process which, progressively overcoming the traditional fragmentation of the international legal system, led to the development of legal solutions aimed at satisfying the claim for harmonisation between investment concerns, on the one hand, and labour protection, on the other. Against this backdrop, the analysis addresses institutions such as corporate social responsibility, the “right to regulate” doctrine and the principle of proportionality, as well as – at the procedural level – the counterclaim. It concludes trying to outline a trend for the current evolution of conventional investment practice.


Multinational enterprises, labour standards, international investment law and arbitration, corporate social responsibility, “right to regulate” doctrine, proportionality, counterclaim.